30 Adar 1 5559 – March 7 1799
Napoleon conquered Jaffa after a four day battle, having completed a successful military campaign in Egypt. His soldiers vented the frustrations of the long desert march, during which many of them suffered from plague as well as thirst, on the hapless city. Raging through the streets they pillaged and killed Jews, Muslims and Christians indiscriminately, leaving thousands dead. Thousands more who’d surrendered after being besieged in the town’s fortress were murdered on Napoleon’s orders. But French historiography – and artists – chose to immortalize a different aspect of the event: Napoleon’s visit to the Monastery of St. Nicholas, where plague victims among his troops were quarantined. This example, Napoleon Bonaparte Visiting the Plague-Stricken in Jaffa, is by Antoine-Jean Gros.